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Freecycle Means Free Stuff and a Cleaner Environment

Over one million members in almost 3,000 communities worldwide are sharing their unwanted stuff.

All the getting and giving is possible through an organization called Freecycle, a grassroots movement of people who give away things for free in their own towns. Each local group is run by a local volunteer moderator. All of the trading is done online. Membership is free. Freecycle is open to individuals and non-profit organizations.

The Freecycle Network was started in 2003 in Tucson, Arizona, to promote waste reduction and help save desert landscape from being taken over by landfills. In just two years the idea has spread worldwide.

The process is quite simple. Go to and find a group near you. (If there's not one close, consider starting one yourself.) Then when you want to find a new home for something, just send an e-mail offering it to members of your Freecycle group.

Some groups have restrictions on what you can and cannot post, but most limitations are simply that the item needs to be completely free, legal, and appropriate for all ages. What you offer doesn't matter: computer parts, couch, clothing, an old window, broken car, perfume, whatever.

If you have it and don't want it, someone else probably can put it to good use.

If something is posted that you're interested in obtaining, simply respond to the member's offer. The giver decides who receives the gift and sets up a pickup time for passing on the treasure. Sometimes it's as simple as "I'll leave it on the front porch of 123 Main St., come by anytime."

Many local networks also allow "wanted" posts. If you're looking for a 10 gallon aquarium, check with Freecycle first. Odds are good someone may have one sitting in their basement collecting dust.

While each individual network may have slightly different restrictions, most are similar. There are generally four types of posts and these words must appear in the subject line of your email: Wanted: xxx, Offer: xxx, Taken: xxx, or Found: xxx.

Generally, you should elaborate a bit in your emails as to why you are need something or why you are interested in picking up the item. Please save your entire life story for another forum, but responses like "I'm interested" will likely get deleted.

On the other hand, something like: "I'm a single mom who just moved here after my divorce. I'd love to pick up your washing machine tonight. I would greatly appreciate not having to squeeze in time to go to the laundromat after work," will likely get consideration.

Be sincere. Don't make up a woeful story trying to get something. The intent of Freecycle is to help others by giving and getting. And at the same time, help the environment.

What a great, fun organization.

About the Author
Joe Hickman, a former EPA web writer, is editor at (

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